April 26, 2013 by kholzhauer
I live in Los Angeles, so naturally, I spend time in my car. I mean yeah, I’m one of the few who walks and bikes when it makes more sense than walking, but work and home are 18 miles apart, work and pole studio are 6 miles apart, pole and home are 12 miles apart, boyfriend and home are 10 miles apart. I walk to the grocery store, but I end up driving a lot in LA. And I end up spending at least some portion of my week enjoying a view not unlike this one. Because lucky me, my commute is on the 405 every day. Against traffic for the most part, but there’s no real avoiding it entirely. Sure, I know when NOT to be on the freeway, and I have my shortcuts through the canyons, but I end up in traffic on the freeway enough to know that LA drivers, while not entirely terrible all the time, often suck. Here’s my note to LA drivers based only on what I’ve dealt with THIS week.
1. Secure your belongings. Even if you think they’re too big to fall off the back of your pickup. This week I’ve swerved around a shrubbery in the fast lane (yes, I went there,) watched stacks of flyers flutter out of a passenger side window at 45 miles an hour, worried that someone’s dog was about to go the way of the shrubbery, and avoided an on ramp covered in fruit. If you think it might fly away, tie it down. Lock it up. Double check. If you think it’s too big to fly away, think again. I’ve seen mattresses go off pickup trucks and washer/dryer sets bounce a solid 4 feet. Driving is unpredictable enough without having to wipe a garbage bag full of grass clippings off my windshield.
2. Don’t litter. If not because you care about the environment, because you care about the drivers around you, or hell, even because you care about yourself. If I’m too busy wiping a dirty diaper/ plastic bag/milkshake off my windshield to see when you slam on the breaks, I may rear end you. I don’t want that. You don’t want that. Just wait til you pull over to throw out your trash. It’s simple, it’s good for the environment, and it’ll cause everyone less grief. And a less sticky car. A half full milkshake? All over my winshield? For real? have some sense, lady in the gold Previa at rush hour on the 405.
3. While we’re on the subject of rear ending, get off my ass. Stop tailgating. I understand that you have somewhere to be. So do I, or I wouldn’t be in my car on this god forsaken freeway on a beautiful day. But if you’re so close to my rear end that I can’t even see the glare from your headlights, back off. Neither of us will get there any faster if we get in an accident. And I promise you, I’m not going that slow (unless there’s traffic.) so just back off. It’s gonna get ugly real fast if a coyote/child/mattress/deer bounces in front of my car and I’m forced to slam on the breaks.
4. Turn Signals. They’re really not optional, but it seems like 3/4 of LA drivers view them as such. Driving is inherently unpredictable, so you choosing to careen your 3000 pound vehicle across 6 lanes of traffic without giving the 299,999 other commuters on the 405 a heads up is a dick move. Use your signals. It saves lives. It keeps nerves from being frazzled. You don’t look like some kind of badass for not using your signals. You do, however, look like an ass.
5.I’ll keep it short and sweet. Stop doing your makeup, texting your boyfriend, eating cereal, changing your shirt, reading a book (seriously. Saw this on the 405 on Tuesday) and everything else you do in the car. Just drive.
6. Don’t be this guy. Figure out the damn zipper merge. Sure, we’re all trying to get somewhere (Again, no one’s getting on the 405 at 8 am for the hell of it) but why is your destination any more important than mine? Because you drive a BMW and I drive a Toyota? That stupid zipper merge you seem to be allergic to is actually proven to make the whole merging process go faster. Meaning, it’ll eliminate traffic so you won’t feel that creepy compulsion to drive up the shoulder and pass 8 cars, only to end up stuck behind one of them later when someone frustrated and passive aggressive decides you’re the dick who is gonna get boxed in. Not that I’d ever do that.
7. Quit violating the fast lane. It has feelings too. Get out of the fast lane if you’re going below the speed limit. Get out of the fast lane if you’re going the speed limit. Get out of the fast lane if you’re not going FASTER than the speed of traffic. It’s for passing. If you’re not doing that, you shouldn’t be there.
8. If you chose to be behind me, stop flashing your brights, riding my ass, flicking me off, and honking if I’m not driving to your liking and there’s plenty of room to go around me. This generally happens if I’m going about 78 and the dude behind me wants to be going 85. I tend to leave the fast lane open for just that reason. And if I’m driving ridiculously slow, there’s probably a reason. I’m not a fan of my brake pedal.
9.Last but not least Learn to drive in the rain. Yes, LA is pretty 4/5 of the year, but it gets rainy sometimes. Like last night. Don’t go 90 in the rain. And don’t go 20 on the freeway in the rain. Inevitably that 90 mile per hour dude isn’t gonna see the 20 mph dude in time and is going to slide right into him. Exercise caution. Follow at a SAFE distance. Don’t do donuts, on purpose or by accident. Eat donuts always, but don’t do them.
Well, this ode is a work in progress, since every week I end up in the car, I see weirder shit, but there’s a start. Anything you want to add? Let me know. I’m happy to update the post. Unless you’re emailing me from your moving vehicle. Stop that.